Kingston, 6 May 2020 – The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange, has expressed sadness at the passing of Jamaica’s first international female superstar, Millicent “Millie” Small.
The ‘My Boy Lollipop’ singer died in the United Kingdom on Tuesday (yesterday) at the age of 73, after suffering a stroke.
Minister Grange said:
“Millie Small will forever be remembered as one of Jamaica’s great music icons. Under the guidance of legendary producer Chris Blackwell she brought Jamaican music to the world, with ‘My Boy Lollipop’ getting to number two on the US and UK charts in 1964 and selling seven million copies.
I recall spending time with Millie when I accompanied the late former Prime Minister Edward Seaga on a visit to Island Records in the UK. We had a lovely time with her — and her baby daughter, Jaelee, who is now an accomplished musician — and found her to be that same warm, engaging, fun-loving, bubbly and charming woman that we heard singing ‘My Boy Lollipop’; and we found that she was also a wonderful mother.
Millie’s story is one of resilience and the strength of the human spirit. She took the sweet with the bitter as she navigated the music industry at a time when Jamaican music and Jamaican female artistes were still new concepts to the world.
Jamaica will remain eternally grateful to Millie Small as she paved the way for Ska to explode on the world scene through numerous television appearances around the world, including the BBC’s Top of the Pops. Her unique sound attracted audiences around the world and turned attention on Jamaican music, which allowed other genres to break through internationally.”
Millie Small was born in Clarendon and developed an early interest in music, entering various talent competitions across the island. By her teenage years she was recording for Sir Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One label. She was then spotted by Blackwell who took her to London where ‘My Boy Lollipop' was recorded.
Millie Small’s ‘Enoch Power’ — a defiant response to British Conservative politician Enoch Powell’s anti-immigration speech — became an anthem for the newly arrived Windrush generation.
Millie Small was also an actor, painter and dancer.
She was awarded the national honour of Commander of the Order of Distinction in 2011.
Minister Grange has expressed condolences to her daughter Jaelee and other members of her family.